The Masterson Inheritance

The Masterson Inheritance was an improvised comedy series broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from 1993 to 1995 billed as "an improvised historical saga of a family at war with itself."[1] There were three series and two Christmas specials. It was broadcast from 1993 to 1995. From time to time, repeats of the show are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

The Masterson Inheritance
Cassette cover from the BBC Canned Laughter series, 1993
Running time30 minutes
Country of originUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Home stationBBC Radio 4
StarringJosie Lawrence
Paul Merton
Phelim McDermott
Caroline Quentin
Lee Simpson
Jim Sweeney
Original release22 April 1993 –
25 December 1995
No. of series3
No. of episodes20
Audio formatStereophonic sound

In each programme, the cast members – Josie Lawrence, Phelim McDermott, Paul Merton, Caroline Quentin, Lee Simpson, and Jim Sweeney – would be given a particular historical setting, and, incorporating suggestions from the audience, would improvise that episode in the saga of the Masterson family.[2] One episode, The Marooned Mastersons, was never broadcast but is available on Jim Sweeney's website.

Music edit

Each episode of the saga was introduced by and ended with Erich Korngold's Hollywood-style title music from the 1946 film noir Deception.

Critical reaction edit

The Independent reckoned the show was genuinely improvised, due to the "air of suppressed panic", even if the improvisation revolved around a small number of choices. It questioned the longevity of the format once people got bored with listening to their mistakes.[3]

Episode list edit

Series Episode Title Historical Setting First broadcast
1 1 The Curse of the Mastersons The 1760s and the slave trade 22 April 1993
2 The Mastersons and Johnson The 1790s 29 April 1993
3 Scurvy The 1800s at sea 6 May 1993
4 The Sweat of the Mastersons Victorian London 13 May 1993
5 The Tatting of the Mastersons 19th century America 20 May 1993
6 The Mastersons Lose Everything The 1890s 27 May 1993
Special 1 The Stuffing of the Mastersons Victorian Christmas 25 December 1993
2 1 Beware the Ides of Masterson Imperial Rome 11 June 1994
2 The Quest for the Other Rabbit's Foot The court of King Arthur 18 June 1994
3 Last Word to the Mastersons The industrial revolution 25 June 1994
4 The Jousting Mastersons Late 15th century 2 July 1994
5 The Gangrene of the Mastersons The Crimean War 9 July 1994
6 The Mastersons Go Down The Hercules (passenger ship) 16 July 1994
3 1 The Mastersons Magical Marquee (1) Travelling Victorian circus 24 June 1995
2 The Mastersons Magical Marquee (2) 1 July 1995
3 Masterson Rides Again 19th century public school 8 July 1995
4 The Masterson Bunch Early 20th century before the great war 15 July 1995
5 The Pain of the Mastersons The romantic poets 22 July 1995
6 The St Valentine's Day Masterson 1920s Hollywood 29 July 1995
Special 2 The Mastersons' Christmas Cracker An isolated village of ancient beliefs 25 December 1995

References edit

  1. ^ "The Masterson Inheritance". TV Cream. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  2. ^ Butler, Robert (25 April 1993). "ARTS / Show People: Off the cuff and on the spot: 74. Josie Lawrence". The Independent (UK). Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  3. ^ Hanks, Robert (27 April 1993). "RADIO / Light on God, heavy on the Mayo: Robert Hanks on The Big Holy One and The Masterson Inheritance". The Independent (UK). Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 5 March 2013.

External links edit